My arms are so sore from all this kneading! When I am doing things like this, I always think of how hard women in the past worked. For every loaf of bread in the house there was hard work that was done. For every clean shirt, for every cooked meal, there was really hard work.
Good Wednesday today, and the tsoureki's will be baked later tonight, after church. It is the holy oil of wish tonight. Olive oil is part of many christian orthodox rituals. The oil of wish is a special ceremony, where the priest holifies the oil, and then you take a small quantity in a small piece of cotton, and you rub it to your forehead, heart, and hands, so your thoughts (forehead), your feelings (heart) and your actions (hands) be nobel. The ceremony of Good Wednesday is the most important one, and this oil is kept all year through, till it is replaced with the new one, the coming Good Wednesday.
I found something on the web about greek easter for you. The english is so much better than mine, and it gives a very good explanation about Easter. So I am pasting it for you here. It really shows how food is part of our culture, and how specific things are eaten in certain holidays. I should have done Christmas for you too, now I think of it. Ah well...next year...
I have to rush today, because I have to go see a couple of apartments, go to work, then do my therapy session (oi oi ), then come home and deal with my tsoureki's.
I am still bloated and pms-y and I am not getting on the scales today! My period will come any day now. Tis silly to get upset with a number since I have been eating well and using the treadmill every day this week so far :)
So here it goes...
Easter is by far the holiest of Greek holidays, but it is also the most joyous, a celebration of spring, of rebirth in its literal as well as figurative sense. Easter is also called "Lambri" in Greek, which is translated into "shiness". The same shiness that follows the beginning of spring and of new life.
The stereotype image of Greek Easter is a familiar one: whole lambs on a spit, slowly roasting, red-dyed eggs, and braided sweet breads, those, too, studded with red eggs.Easter is by far the holiest of Greek holidays, but it is also the most joyous, a celebration of spring, of rebirth in its literal as well as figurative sense. Greeks leave the cities in droves to spend Easter in the countryside, usually in their own ancestral villages.
Food, of course, is central to the festivities, but not all Greeks eat the same Easter meal. The "traditional" Easter table varies regionally, although all over the country it mirrors that same age-old wisdom that nothing should be wasted. If one has fasted for 40 long days, abstaining from meats and dairy products, then the notion of savoring every last morsel is even more important.
Different Foods from Region to Region. Regional Greek Easter dishes have evolved from the natural environment-the geography, the lay of the land, what is available -place by place, as well as on the tastes and origins of local populations. The holiday is also a culinary celebration of spring, a time when the normally dust-dry Greek landscape bursts with color and vegetation. Fresh herbs and tender young greens-dill, wild fennel, lemon balm, lettuce, sorrel and spinach, among other things-crop up on island and mainland menus both.Cheese, eggs, and richly scented breads play an important part on the table, but the meal is always centered around meat. On the mainland, generally, lamb is the meat of choice. In the islands, especially in the Aegean, it is goat.
Those heroic feasts so many of us are familiar with lamb roasted whole on the spit, in other words-are really a custom of Roumeli (Central mainland Greece) and the Pelopponese alone. The practice has been adopted in other regions moistly because it is fun.Aegean and other Island TraditionsIn the Aegean, local cooks still abide by their own age-old traditions. In islands such as Andros, Samos, Ikaria, Lesvos, and Rhodes, the custom is to stuff a whole side of goat and bring it to the village baker early on Easter Sunday. The stuffings vary slightly from place to place, but more or less include rice, any available fresh herbs, from dill and fennel to more esoteric herbs such as lemon balm and poppy leaves, sometimes nuts and raisins, and sometimes the liver or other innards from the lamb or goat.
Fresh Spring Cheeses. Another culinary rite of spring in the Aegean is the preparation of a specific, seasonal, fresh cheese. Its name varies from island to island, but more or less it is the same product, a soft, fresh, very mild-sometimes not even salted-curd cheese that is used as a filling in numerous Easter pastries. These pastries are usually in the form of small tartlets of varying shapes. Some are shaped like stars, others like little packets, others still rolled into logs, flavored with either cinnamon, or orange blossom water, or mahlepi (a cherry kernel). Combinations of cheese and lamb or goat are also common. One of the most unusual is a pie made on the western side of Crete called Paschalini tourta ("Easter Torte"). It looks almost like brioche, filled with soft whey cheese, and lamb, and seasoned with cinnamon. Elsewhere, the combination of meat and cheese takes a different form. In Andros, the Paschal goat or lamb is richly filled with fresh cheese and eggs, in addition to the standard rice. In Rhodes, one of the Dodecanese islands, another stuffed goat dish called Lambriatis, which means bright and is synonymous with Easter, sometimes includes the local kefalotyri, a hard yellow sheep's milk cheese, as well as spring onions, parsley, dill, rice and innards. The whole thing is cooked in a deep clay dish sealed with a cover of dough.
Breaking the Fast. The Easter table everywhere in Greece is supposed to be as lavish and filling as possible, even though the Fast itself is broken with a few, very specific foods.After 40 days of abstaining from all animal products, it would be very difficult indulge in a huge feast without first, well, warming up to it. In the Greek tradition that means a small meal after the midnight Mass on Saturday night. The most widely engrained tradition is to make and serve mageiritsa, a lemony lamb soup made mostly with the animal's offal, and lots of fresh lettuce and dill. The midnight meal also includes the traditional Easter bread and hard-boiled red-dyred eggs.
Offal, even in these food-fearing times, still plays a prominent role on the table. Its widespread use and acceptance is a reflection of every traditional cook's ingrained sense of economy-everything is used and consumed. In the Ionian island of Corfu, for example, the Lenten fast is broken with a delicate dish called tsilikortha, made with sauted liver seasoned with dill, parsley, mint, and vinegar, or in some recipes, with cinnamon, cloves, and oregano. Corfu also is one of the few places in the country where mageiritsa is not the dish of choice with which to break the fast. Traditionally, mageiritsa in Corfu isn't a soup at all, but a stew with a thick egg-and-lemon sauce. Off the islands and onto the mainland, especially in Thessaly and Macedonia, people show a pronounced appetite for offal in every shape and form. A local specialty in Thessaly is lamb's caul stuffed with innards and herbs and baked in tomato sauce. Farther north, in parts of Macedonia, where much of the local population emigrated from Asia Minor, another dish made with caul fat is called sarma. There, it is filled with sweetbreads and liver, rice and herbs. A similar dish, called trimma, may also be found in Epirus, over the Pindus Mountains, in northwestern Greece. There, ample eggs, liver, sorrel (one of the many local wild greens), breadcrumbs, and cheese make up the filling. By far, though, the best-known offal specialty of the Greek easter table is kokkoretsi, a medley of skewered innards wrapped tightly in intestine, doused with lemon, and either spit-roasted or baked. One of the most interesting offal dishes comes from Lamia in a dish called souflitses, a kind of dolma made with lettuce leaves and liver baked in tomato sauce.
For most Greeks, Easter symbolizes many things at once. The table is a reflection of tradition as well as, albeit it temporarily, of the realities of nature. The ingredients, the seasonings, and the dishes might differ from place to place, but on the rural or regional Greek Easter table there is always one rule surely followed: Nothing must be wasted!